12 Oct Has Amnesty International Jumped the Shark?
Perhaps. At least they are getting their waterskis on. According to Politico, Amnesty International has filed a 1,000 page memorandum demanding that Canadian authorities arrest or extradite former U.S. President George W. Bush.
“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former President Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
Let’s just say that the Canadian government is not likely to act on Amnesty’s advice.
“I cannot comment on individual cases… that said, Amnesty International cherry picks cases to publicize based on ideology. This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,” Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney told POLITICO, noting that Amnesty International had never sought a court order to bar Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Tongolese dicator Gnassingbé Eyadema from Canada.
“Perhaps this helps to explain why Salman Rushdie has said that ‘it looks very much as if Amnesty’s leadership is suffering from a kind of moral bankruptcy,’ and why Christopher Hitchens has written about the organization’s ‘degeneration and politicization,’” Kenney added.
I don’t doubt Amnesty International has sincere views on this question. But let’s be honest. This is 90% a publicity stunt that neither advances the development of international law, or human rights, because there is zero chance that Bush will be detained anywhere (much less in Canada). In fact, the likely rejection of AI’s view on this by more and more states will undermine AI’s goals in the long run.
In any event, I somehow doubt that in the spring of 2013, Amnesty will await (hopefully) then-former President Obama with a similar memorandum (following the legal opinions of folks like Mary Ellen O’Connell that Obama has committed violations of the laws of war) over his authorization of drone attacks outside the battlefield.